after ' That hit'
https://www.sen.com.au/news/2016/10/11/ ... after-hit/
Playing football at the elite level was never the same for former St Kilda big man Justin Koschitzke after he was hit hard in the head during a match over a decade ago.
He was selected by the Saints with the second pick in the 2000 national draft and often struggled with injuries throughout his 13-year career that ended with his 200th game in 2013.
Well before then in Round 6 of the 2006 premiership season it was a crushing hip and shoulder from Western Bulldogs player Daniel Giansiracusa at Etihad Stadium that changed everything.
“It gradually got better,” said Koschitzke on SEN radio.
“Thommo finished at the end of that year, and he continued to help me and is still a great mentor.
“So Rossy came in and I think he saw me as a ‘done footballer’ – I was 24 or something and over it, I just didn’t want to be a part of it.
“He was instrumental in rebuilding – he sat down, we had a conversation and said, ‘do you want to be here?’ I said, ‘not really’.
“So he made a bit of a deal with me and said, ‘you just go out, train do what you want to do by feel and we’ll have a chat in March’.
“He said, if you feel fit and up and about in March and have your passion for the game back, off you go – if not, then see you later no qualms.
“Rossy was instrumental in rebuilding my love for the game, but there’s no way that I felt the same way about the game, and the love of it and the feel of it since that incident.”
The next time Koschitzke took the field was against Geelong in Round 19, desperate to put everything that had happened against the Dogs aside to help his team push for the finals.
He played the game with a helmet that was fitted with a metal plate to protect the part of his skull that was previously fractured.
“That had a significant impact on my life and still does,” he added about the hit.
“It took me a long time to want to be back on the footy ground, one of the worst decisions I made was to come back and play at the end of that year with a helmet on.
“I played with my heart, I just thought we’re playing finals here, but it was the worst, loneliest and scariest time I’ve ever had.
“I can remember walking up the race with the boys and wishing I was anywhere else in the world, anywhere else in the world.
“Walking up that race thinking, what is going to happen today? Not even thinking about, how am I going to get a kick or whatever?”
At the moment a court inquiry is trying to better determine how Phillip Hughes was tragically killed by a bouncer at the end of 2014 in a Sheffield Shield game.
That incident had a significant impact on Koschitzke who was well aware of how serious a knock to the wrong part of the head can be.
“It’s been well publicised and replayed a million times when Gia hit me at Etihad,” he said.
“That had a significant impact on my life, on how I felt about footy, how I felt about everything and I’ve had a lot of health issues.
“When Phil went down and the days after I second-guessed everything for a little while to the point where I didn’t go to work for a day.
“Then I found myself the day of his funeral sitting in my office on the telly by myself all day just glued to it, I didn’t want to speak to anybody.
“You might think I’m dramatizing it or whatever, but our physio at the time that come out and saw me on the ground he rang me out of the blue after Phil went down.
“He said, ‘how are you going?’ I said, ‘not that well’ – it was amazing that he knew.
“When he got out there I had brain fluid and blood coming out of my ear and I was non-responsive – he thought the worst as well because of the spot I’d being hit.
“He has told me since that he has sought help for it (after seeing me like that).”